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In this third article of ‘Made in Penang: Pitching in to fight Covid-19’ series, investPenang continues to feature Penang companies and products that support local and global healthcare needs during the pandemic period. This article looks at how 3D printers and materials for production by Cytron are used for the production of PPE by the digital maker community.


Cytron provides solutions for digital makers to build smart electronic and robotic projects. The company, which is based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, achieves this by designing boards/modules that simplify the building process, supplying reliable parts at affordable prices, and guiding digital makers to choose the right parts and get started. The company delivers digital making products and solutions through their e-commerce website, and also supply to local industries through normal offline procurement.


While Cytron delivers the products to digital makers, the company believes that it was the tenacity and collaborative effort of the maker community that brought about the making of all these much-needed PPE for Covid-19 frontliners.


Despite the constraint due to the movement control order (MCO), Cytron tried their best to deliver all equipment and materials needed, which include 3D printers such as Ender-3 and Ender-3 PRO to produce face shields, headbands and filaments that are needed to produce the PPE.


In terms of face shield production for the frontliners, maker community in Malaysia started their own group and distributed the task. Individual makers printed and produced parts for the face shield using their own 3D printer, filaments and material. Cytron also supplied the 3D printers, material, and shared product-making knowledge to enable the community to build the face shields and straps/headbands. In addition, Cytron also sponsored filaments / 3D printers to groups such as Penang Science Cluster and KakiDIY.


Ender-3 PRO 3D printer used to produce face shields.


The designs of the face-shield and headband in the maker community can be obtained from open source platforms. As such, makers can respond rapidly during the pandemic, without the need to design everything from scratch and can modify them according to the needs of the local frontliners. The production of these PPE can even take place from homes of the makers.


Moreover, some innovative ideas from the maker community provided great help to everyday problems faced by the frontliners. For example, the makers realised that face masks may come with ear straps that are too loose (and hence frontliners are not able to wear the mask properly and securely) and the Muslim nurses who adorned tudung are not able to tie the masks to their ears conveniently. The 3D-printed strap, which connected the face mask straps behind the head of the frontlier (instead of merely using the ordinary ear straps), helped in allowing the face mask to be worn more comfortably and in a secure manner.


3D printed ear straps for the face masks.

As a whole, Cytron estimated that the Penang maker community collectively produced 80,000 to 120,000 pieces of various PPE parts during the MCO, and this number is still growing. The maker community and Cytron’s products have contributed in a big and collective manner during this period of Covid-19.